A Woman's Story

by Lorraine Espinosa

Mary Cerny remembers the spring day in 1972 when her life changed forever. She was 15, a high school sophomore in a small Illinois town, when she and a few friends were drinking.

Mary became pregnant. Frightened and confused. "I thought I would just have a baby and put it on someone?s doorstep," she says. But she decided to give up her child for adoption.

Mary gave birth to a son on January 24, 1973, two days after the Supreme Court legalized abortion. She heard him cry, but was not permitted to see him. "I cried the first two weeks," she says.

Mary became engaged during her senior year. Two months before the wedding, she was expecting again. "We wanted to start our marriage without any complications," she says, "and neither of us wanted to have a baby that soon."

Abortion was now legal, and a friend recommended it. "It?s not a baby anyway," her friend said, "just a bunch of cells. There?s nothing to it."

A week before the wedding, Mary terminated her pregnancy. "I knew immediately it was wrong," she says. "It was a terrible experience. There was no compassion and no counseling."

She and her fianc? cried the whole night and never spoke about it again. "We locked it away in our minds," she says. "It was too painful."

Their marriage lasted a year and a half. Mary?s husband eventually died of a drug overdose. She always wondered if guilt might have been the cause. Despite her grief over the loss of her babies and her marriage, Mary determined to make something of herself and enrolled in nursing school.

When her sister talked to her about God, she invited Jesus into her life in 1979. She married her present husband, Miles, the following year and both dedicated their lives to God.

"The Lord changed my whole life," Mary says. "I started to realize what I had done by having an abortion. It was good to know that God washed my sins away, but the guilt was always there. I couldn?t forgive myself."

Her healing came through another loss ? a miscarriage. "When I had the miscarriage, the horror of what I had done hit me full force," she says. "There was no more denial."

She sank into depression.

Mary sensed the Lord urging her to share her story to help other woman with similar experiences. She became a crisis pregnancy counselor at a Birthright center in Antigo, Wis., where she worked as an obstetrics nurse. "All that pain that should have ruined me helped me to get better," she says.

Nine months after her miscarriage, Mary became pregnant; in 1988, she gave birth to a son named Luke. Fourteen months later, she had a tubal pregnancy. She learned that, because of uterine infections and scaring, miscarriages and tubal pregnancy are common in women who have had abortions. She hemorrhaged and nearly died. When the doctors marveled at her recovery, she told them, "Jesus did it."

In 1995, Mary hired an investigator and located her son, Greg, a college student in Washington State. He flew to Wisconsin to meet her and the brother he didn?t know he had and invited her to his wedding. "It was a wonderful reunion," she says.

The apostle Paul wrote that God "comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort that we ourselves received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:4, NIV). God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.

Today, Mary continues as an obstetrics nurse in Antigo. She is cofounder and director of Lifeline Crisis Pregnancy Center in Oconto Falls, Wis., and serves on its board of directors. She speaks to youth groups and in public schools about her experiences.

"I emphasize the abstinence message because of what I?ve gone through," she says. She warns young people of the dangers of drinking and encourages parents to know where their children are and what they are doing.

Mary thanks God for helping her grow through her adversities and for using her to console others. "Without Jesus, I would have been in despair, living with guilt and shame," she says. "Through His love and goodness, I have been made a new person."